E-NEWS - 2013

Words of Hope – JDI's Lifesaving Holiday Campaign

Media Contact: Jesse Lerner-Kinglake
(office) 213-384-1400, ext. 113
E-mail: jkinglake@justdetention.org

Los Angeles, December 3, 2013 – Starting today, Just Detention International (JDI) is inviting supporters to write holiday messages to some of the most marginalized people in the U.S. today: survivors of prisoner rape. JDI’s Words of Hope campaign is a free, simple way to provide incarcerated survivors with some kindness and compassion at an especially difficult time of year.
Now in its fourth year, Words of Hope has transformed the lives of people who have been sexually abused while in the government’s custody. Ca’Linda, a survivor of rape at two Kentucky detention facilities, credits last year’s holiday messages with helping her to stave off the depression and loneliness of prison life. “I often wonder if anyone cares, if I’m as truly alone as I often feel,” she wrote to JDI. “But when I read the cards from JDI supporters, they brought me tears of joy. I can't thank you enough for letting me know I'm not forgotten.”

In 2012, JDI supporters penned more than 10,000 greetings to prisoner rape survivors – a record that JDI aims to surpass this year. Supporters can submit a note on JDI’s website, or via Twitter using the #WordsofHope hashtag. “It takes less than a minute to send a holiday message and it costs nothing. But for survivors, this small gesture of kindness is priceless,” said Lovisa Stannow, JDI’s Executive Director.

Nicole Garza, a member of JDI’s Survivor Council who is serving time at a California prison, has been receiving holiday messages from JDI supporters since 2009, the campaign’s first year. Nicole wrote, “The holiday cards were the first time that people on the outside reached out to me. It felt amazing to open them. There was more compassion in those cards than in anything I’d ever received.”

JDI is launching Words of Hope on #GivingTuesday, a national initiative that encourages charitable donations over the holidays. JDI has also produced a short film about Words of Hope, narrated by the actor and human rights activist Mike Farrell. The film features photos and testimony of survivors whose lives were transformed by the holiday campaign.
Stannow said, “Words of Hope is the only campaign of its kind. It’s a way for people on the outside to have an enormously positive impact on a person’s life with just a few caring words.”
For reporters interested in interviewing a survivor who has received holiday messages in past years, contact Jesse Lerner-Kinglake at 213-384-1400 ext. 113, or at jkinglake@justdetention.org.

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